Did you know that an eight-ounce glass of premium eggnog contains 320 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 32 grams of sugar? I didn’t. I was not completely clueless about eggnog, but I had purchased a light version assuming that would make all the difference. I glanced at the carton at the store seeing it contained 120 calories per serving. I could fit those calories in my day, so I thought. After getting the kids tucked in bed, I poured myself an indulgent glass, and settled into my cozy couch to enjoy it. As I finished up the creamy concoction, I picked up my phone to log the foods that I had eaten that day. As I went through my logging all was well, until I looked up the delicious nog I had just joyfully drank up. It not only put me over my calorie goal for the day, but it contained 40 grams of sugar! Now, seldom do I, even as a dietitian, have what would be considered a perfect day, but I was flustered when I realized that even a light eggnog could be so calorie dense. I had to see for certain that the phone app was not mistaken, so I got up from my cozy perch to find that, sure enough, the carton of eggnog contained the very same numbers of calories and fat that my phone was trying to convince me of. What I had missed was the half-cup serving size in small print on the label. A mere 4-ounces equaled 120 calories, not my indulgent eight.
In the long run, this mistake was small and manageable. I am not trying to make a big deal out of nothing or exaggerate the facts of my story. But what if I had not logged the nog and become aware that I was underestimating its nutrition content? I learned something that night that prevented me from indulging continuously and unknowingly which over time could have become a bigger problem. Premium eggnog contains 10 grams of saturated fat per half cup serving which is two-thirds of the recommended 15 grams per day. What foods may you be consuming regularly or including in your holiday routines that are more consequential than realized? In our pursuit of health, should we, like in my case, eggnog or egg not?
I can speak for myself, as a nutrition professional, that I will choose to eggnog. However, I will do so only sometimes using a light version, and you can bet, in a 4-ounce portion. Honestly, it is not the calories that bother me as much as the 40 grams of sugar. Living an active lifestyle, I can work to burn those extra calories, but I cannot do anything to change the 40 grams of sugar and the effect that has on my immediate energy levels and long-term health.
Journaling what you eat is the most effective method to learn about the foods that you eat and enjoy. Healthy or unhealthy, all foods can have a place, and the best way to learn to manage and balance them is to journal. From my experience here, journaling made me aware that my portion of eggnog was just too big. By reducing the size of my portion and not drinking it too frequently, I could fit it in and still keep up with my personal nutrition goals. There is no need to dwell on my mistake or feel bad about it. Now I know, and thanks to journaling, I am in even more control of my diet and health than I was before. Whether you nog or not, I hope my mistake will motivate you to consider journaling as a way to improve your health and achieve your goals as the New Year approaches. Merry Christmas!